The New York Port Authority announced yesterday that it will delay a decision on whether to let the Concorde serve New York's John F. Kennedy Airport because the British and French airlines want to present technical data on the supersonic jet's noise.
The Port Authority's board of commissioners had been scheduled to decide the issue at a regular monthly meeting Thursday. The authority has refused to permit the Concorde to serve the lucrative New York market until it examines noise date collected from Concorde flights in other cities - primarily London, Paris and Washington.
Both British and French spokesmen said yesterday they did not request a delay in the decision - only an opportunity to present their side of the noise issue. "Personally, I would have preferred a positive decision," said French Ambassador Jacques Kosciusko-Morizet. "What we want is a fair trail."
Charles E. Goodell, attorney for the French government and a former U.S. Senator from New York, told the Port Authority late yesterday, "We cannot accept any further postponement of a decision on landing rights." He said that Air France and British Airways - operators of the Concorde - would have "no alternative" but to press their lawsuit against the Post Authority if no decision is made by next Tuesday, when a hearing is scheduled in U.S. District Court in New York City. That hearing has been delayed twice.
All betting has been that the Port Authority board would either say "no" to the Concorde, or that New York Gov. Hugh Carey would veto a "yes" decision, which he has the right to do.
It is against that backdrop, and with nationwide approaching elections in France, that French officials have been stepping up a public relations and international political campaign to win a favorable Concorde decision.
The Concorde program has serious problems - unsold airplanes and a production line that is nearing extinction.No international airline is interested in an airplane that cannot land in New York, even if it will fly at twice the speed of sound.
President Carter said during his radio "talk show" Saturday that he had talked by telephone with Carey to convey French concern about the New York decision after French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing had called Carter. There have been threats from French labor unions not to service U.S. airplanes in French cities if the Concorde is denied New York.
The British have been less trident be just as firm. Prime Minister James Callaghan has announced that he will fly Concorde on his trip to Washington this week.
President Carter has said that the Port Authority, not the Federal Government has control of Kennedy Airport. Dulles Airport, which Concorde has been sing since last May on a trial basis, is under federal ownership.